ECLCM amended Proposal
The ECLCM Campaign Group is a number of individuals who came together in response to the Government announcement in December 2013 in relation to the introduction of ‘Staying Put’ arrangements for children in foster care.
This proposal, that the age until which a child may routinely stay in foster care be extended to 21, is welcome by the campaign group. However, the group considered it to be discriminatory and an injustice that children in residential care should not be afforded the same opportunity as part of a range of support options available to them as they prepare to leave care.
After six months campaigning and the garnishing of considerable support for their action – support that is clearly informed including as it does many social work academics, practitioners, children and young people from care, care leavers and other professionals in related fields – the group now proposes the following resolution.
“The ECLCM campaign group propose that the Government in Westminster amend the legislation to facilitate children in residential care being offered the opportunity for 'continuing care' up to the age of 21 years.
In most cases guidance relating to existing regulations can facilitate this being established, as it should be, in the children's home in which they are living on the eve of their 18th birthday.
The guidance needs to assert that 'staying put' in a children's homes can be long term and need not be circumscribed by previous custom and practice of this being short term, weeks or months.
The guidance can also direct the necessary risk assessment, vetting and any other requirements for safeguarding. Equally the positive aspects of older young people further on in the development of their resilience should not be minimised and should be recognised as offering others positive role modelling and a demonstration of permanence; stability, continuity and security.
Placements should only be possible in homes that are judged by OFSTED to be ‘Good’ or better.
In this regard the ECLCM welcome the comments of the Education Select Committee Report ‘Into independence, not out of care:16pluscare options’ in relation to the use of B&B and specifically:
“..an outright ban on B&B’s should be the long term objective, to be achieved through stronger enforcement of the sufficiency duty, which explicitly requires the provision of surplus placements to meet emergency need”
Care planning mechanisms are considered to be and are sufficiently robust to make such arrangements in a carefully planned manner. A placement rooted in the care plan can give stability, continuity and security for the years to 21.
Where this is not possible due to regulatory requirements as a consequence of there being a majority residents of the home over the age of 18 years, then an alternative local care setting should enable the young person to continue to benefit from the continuation of the close supportive relationship with their home.”